Kick Off: Landon Donovan aims for second chance with USMNT

Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.

1. DONOVAN AGREES WITH KLINSI

After US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann suggested that “there are a lot of players clearly ahead” of LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan in the national team reckoning right now, the former US captain couldn’t agree more. “Like Jurgen said, I'm well behind the group in a lot of ways, and I'm aware of that,” said Donovan. “All I want is a chance to prove that I belong, and I'm going to have to work hard to get that chance.” Turns out, nothing is certain in soccer anymore.

2. STARS QUESTIONABLE FOR LA

And Donovan’s availability for LA’s crunch clash with Real Salt Lake on Saturday night (7:30 pm ET, watch FREE MLS Stream of the Week on MLSsoccer.com) is pretty uncertain, too. As is the fitness of Galaxy’s Irish forward, Robbie Keane. Both are struggling to overcome lower-leg injuries. So could rising star Jack McBean step in once again?

3. ESPINOZA JOINS ET RADIO

Wigan Athletic midfielder Roger Espinoza was the big guest on ExtraTime Radio yesterday, as the Honduran international and former Sporting KC star spoke about the EPL relegation battle: “The pressure in town is huge, everybody wants you to win and nobody wants you to go down.” The Honduran also chatted about the upcoming World Cup qualifier against the USMNT at the Rio Tinto: “It is not going to be easy against the US, they have taken Honduras to the altitude.”

4. DAX OUT AS RED BULLS HEAD NORTH

From one fiery midfielder player to another, and RBNY’s Dax McCarty will not be featuring this weekend as New York play Toronto (2 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in US). “Dax will be out, the word right now, two weeks,” head coach Mike Petke said after Thursday’s workout session. “He has a slight tear in his quad.” Check out everything you need to know as Petke’s men take on an improved TFC outfit, in "The Scouting Report." While Toronto have agreed to bring in Argentine midfielder Matías Laba as a young DP.

5. SILVA, MCBEAN, HEINEMANN … ON THE PATH TO MLS STARDOM

Luis Silva emulating Clint Dempsey, Jack McBean’s the next Brian Ching and Steven Lenhart has company with Tommy Heinemann. MLSsoccer.com managing editor Jonah Freedman took an intriguing look at the young stars in MLS who are following in the footsteps of past and current MLS heroes.

6. FIRE OWNER: “FIRST PART OF THE SEASON HAS BEEN A DISAPPOINTMENT”

Despite a few positive results of late, Chicago Fire owner Andrew Hauptman has branded the start of this season as a “disappointment” overall. And ahead of the Fire’s trip to Montreal on Saturday (4 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) Hauptman hinted at new arrivals in Chi-town. “I'm hoping that there will be signings before this window closes,” he said. “That’s my hope and that’s what I’ve tasked the technical staff to shoot for.”

7. STOKE AND BREK SHEA HEAD TO DALLAS

EPL side Stoke City announced a trip to FC Dallas yesterday, meaning Brek Shea will drop in on his former club during the Potters' US tour this summer. The friendly will take place on July 27, as Stoke want to raise their profile in the US. "If there is one market right now where we can develop our own profile, then it has to be America due to the presence of three US internationals in our squad,” a club spokesman said. While over at Big D soccer, the folks take a look at which out of contract midfielders FC Dallas should pick up. FCD aim to stay top of the West on Saturday, as they face a trip to Vancouver (6 pm ET, Univision Deportes, MLS Live).

8. DYNAMO AIM TO EXTEND HOME STREAK

The Houston Dynamo are aiming to extend their MLS record unbeaten home streak against Colorado on Sunday (5 pm ET, UniMas) with an unexpected leading-scorer helping them out in defender Warren Creavelle. While ESPNFC.com’s Jeff Carlisle tries to explain how Houston struggle so badly away from BBVA, but excel in the Lone Star state.

9. USMNT WILL “GET THE JOB DONE AND GO TO BRAZIL”

Klinsmann has certainly been outspoken this week and after meeting with the press to speak all things USMNT, the USA’s head coach believes the team is firmly on track for World Cup 2014. “I think we know that going through that stretch of 10 [CONCACAF Hexagonal] games, there will be some up and downs,” he said. “We still have a way to go. But I’m confident that we’re going to get the job done.”

10. BEHIND RBNY’S TALENTED ACADEMY

It is one of MLS’ premier academy setups, and Soccer America took some time out to find out exactly how the New York Red Bulls keep churning out top talent for the US youth national teams (more than 20 RBNY youngsters gained national recognition last season) .And New York director of youth programs Bob Montgomery is hoping to produce more of this: “I’m talking about guys who come through your club, the homegrown guys, who become contributing players who play for your club for eight, nine, 10 years. That’s what we’re trying to develop.”

11. ATL PLANNING FOR MLS?

A local news station in Atlanta ran this story last night as they stated Atlanta Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, is penciling in plans for an MLS franchise in the Falcons' new downtown stadium. Watch the video and listen out to the news anchors hilarious pronunciation of “FIFA” in the last few seconds … maybe this is why ATL isn’t quite ready for a MLS franchise. While elsewhere in NASL, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have a deal in the works for a new training facility. And in the Midwest, Indianapolis has a new team.

12. MLS FANTASY: WHO TO DROP, AND WHO'S INJURED

So who isn’t performing, who is injured and who’ll be away on international duty? If you are an MLS Fantasy: Soccer Manager buff, then you need to find out this key info. And if you want even more inside tips, look no further than fantasy gurus Jason Saghini and Andrew Wiebe, in the Starting Lineup.

13. CARLTON COLE TO MLS?

Yesterday, West Ham boss Sam Allardyce retold the story of how Borussia Dortmund’s four-goal UCL star Robert Lewandoswki almost joined Blackburn Rovers for £2.5 million a few years ago. The move was botched by the travel chaos caused by the Icelandic volcano eruption. But Allardyce’s comments on another striker should catch the attention of MLS fans. Carlton Cole will not be offered a new deal with the Hammers, and MLS is apparently his next destination. Which team should pick him up?

14. EXPORTS TO DO BATTLE IN EPL

Busy weekend for the American Exports in Europe this weekend. Former MLSers will battle it out in the EPL on Saturday, as Roger Espinoza, Clint Dempsey and Brad Friedel square off when Wigan and Spurs clash. (Fox Soccer, 10 am ET) Stoke City’s US duo of Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea have given themselves a bit of a breathing space, they face Norwich on Saturday. (Fox Soccer, 2:30 pm ET, delayed) Soccer America has the rest of the listings on the tube.

15. BRITISH PM ON SUÁREZ BITE

Luis Suaréz has been in the news a lot recently. Huge understatement. But now British Prime Minister David Cameron has waded into the debate about Suaréz 10-game ban for his bite on Branislav Ivanovic: “I've got a seven-year-old son who just loves watching football and, when players behave like this, it just sets the most appalling example to young people in our country."

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Garber: MLS won't adopt goal-line technology by 2014

Vermes seeks Mikey Lopez' time with US U-20s as prep for minutes

Chivas development guru "nobody has to convince me to look for players in the US"


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